When people hear about the ketogenic diet, they often have some questions. The first is easy to answer; “What is the ketogenic diet?” Well, it’s a high-fat, low-carb, moderate protein nutritional plan that educates people on how to eat low-GI foods to eat beyond their sugar addiction. The keto diet is all about eating heart-healthy fats and green, leafy veggies that promote vitality.
The second question, however, is a little bit more complex; “What is ketosis and how do I get into ketosis faster?” To understand this question, you must first know that ketosis is a metabolic rate whereby your body uses fat - not glucose - for energy. This is a complex metabolic process that depends on several factors including quality and quantity of food, and exercise.
Once you get into ketosis, however, all of the side effects of the keto diet - the fat loss, mental clarity, and extra energy - become known. You’ll feel transformed, and like a new person, but why is it that some people get into ketosis the same day, and for others, this process can take days or weeks to achieve - if ever?
Stick with us as we cover ketosis and what you can do to make getting into this fat-burning, brain-boosting state an enjoyable experience for all.
How Do I Get into Ketosis?
To get to the root of your question, “how long does it take to get into Ketosis,” you must first ask “what is Ketosis” and “how do I get into Ketosis?”
The first thing to realize is that ketosis is not a magic on or off switch you can tap into; your body has been burning glucose, most likely, it’s whole life. It’s going to take more than a few hours to figure out how to transform itself into a fat-burning machine. The good news, however, is that the longer you stay in ketosis, the easier is if for your body to ‘bounce back.’
Another way to think about how your metabolism works are to think about when cars were first invented, they used lead-based gasoline. Sure, they couldn’t go very fast or very far, and it was a disaster for the environment, but they were on the road, and that was exciting.
Over the years, however, researchers found that cars can also run on electricity. Only this time, the results are drastically different. Electric cars can now outperform many gasoline vehicles and have the added benefit of being eco-friendly. The electricity has such an incredible thrust that electric cars can now drive hundreds of miles across the country.
Your engine thrives on fats; Ketosis occurs when there is a lack of glucose, and your body is forced to make its fuel. When you switch the fat, you’ll find your engine is no longer slow or sluggish, and that you can think and drive in what feels like 6th gear.
As we commonly eat a high carb high sugar diet in the Western world, most people never enter Ketosis. Instead, they experience symptoms such as lethargy, headaches, and constipation. At the more severe end of the spectrum, sugar-rich foods can also cause inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. All of these make us seek out comfort food, and so we indulge in the carbs and explains why, for some people, the cycle is never broken.
To Get into Ketosis You Must:
- Eat less than 20g of carbs per day
- Increase your fat intake per your macros
- Restrict your intake of protein and starchy veggies
- Increase minerals and electrolytes
- Exercise more
- Try fasting or a fat fast
Mindset Tip: Be consistent – this is not a diet you can hop in and out of and get results. If you are on a fast, make sure you stick at it. If you are reducing your carbs - keep them low for seven days, etc. It won’t happen overnight, but you will be amazed at what an extra day or consistency can do for your results, and in many cases, an extra day is all it takes to leap into a new you.
If you follow the rules and eat a low carb ketogenic diet, and aim to workout moderately, you can expect to go into Ketosis within 2-3 days (only a few people need the full seven days, and are usually very insulin resistant).
For most people, the greater the carb restriction, the greater the amount of exercise, and the greater the calorie deficient, the greater the speed at which your body will go into Ketosis. If you are doing these things and you are not in ketosis, you are not sadly a unique case; it means you are eating hidden carbs or underestimating your portions.
Keeping a food diary, and measuring out food are two simple ways to ensure you are eating within the realm of ketosis. Another tip to follow is that if something tastes too good to be true, it usually is; especially in restaurants. Many chefs routinely add sugar to honey (or both) to veggies to make them more palatable.
To get into ketosis faster, you can:
You can eat less food: recommended as the first course of action for people who eat above their daily calorie intake. If you do not know how much you are supposed to eat each day, please check out this keto macro calculator which will walk you through your scenario for fat loss.
You can increase the carb restriction: this is a great way to get into ketosis faster and is like pulling off a Band-Aid. By restricting carbs quickly, your body will be forced to get rid of fat faster and will put you in ketosis. Many people prefer to shut carbs off one day and be done with them due to their addictive nature - a little can trigger a binge.
You can increase how often you exercise: if steps 1 or 2 sound scary, another simple way to get into ketosis faster is to move more and increase your energy expenditure. A nice walk for 30 minutes one to three times a week at a leisurely pace will tell your body to step up into ketosis.
As always, be sure to chat with your doctor before making any changes to your nutrition or exercise plan.
Most people adjust to using fat as a fuel source fully within 2-3 weeks; you can go into ketosis within a few hours or days. If the change is too severe (some people experience the dreaded keto flu), simply review what you are eating each day, and take it slower. The benefits of ketosis last a lifetime and do not mean you have to starve yourself or work out like crazy.
Am I in Ketosis Yet?
The only surefire way to confirm if you are in Ketosis is to limit your carbohydrate intake to less than 20g per day and monitor your Ketone levels. The most reliable way to measure your ketones is to use a Blood Ketone Meter. Ketone bodies are a byproduct of metabolized fat. As ketones move around your blood circulatory system, this is the most accurate way to measure them, but they are not the cheapest. They can run you around $60-100 for the meter.
You can use Keto test strips at home to tell if you are in ketosis, but these are considered to be the least accurate method of ketone testing. Even if they work well, to begin with, as your body becomes fat-adapted, the number of ketone bodies in your urine should decrease. They are the most affordable option, however, for ketone testing, and not to be shunned entirely. Most of the strips cost less than $10 per 100 or so bundles.
Another option is ketone breathalyzers; these can gauge if you are in ketosis by measuring ketones on your breathe. While they are not currently perfectly accurate, they are improving all the time, and researchers believe there may be one on the market soon that is 100% accurate at diagnosing ketosis at home. Currently, you can expect around 90% proficiency, and cost the same as blood ketone meters.
The Following Ranges Indicate Ketosis:
- Not in Ketosis: 0.0 mmol/L – 0.4 mmol/L
- Minimal Ketosis: 0.5 mmol/L – 0.8 mmol/L
- Ketosis: 0.9 mmol/L – 1.4 mmol/L
- Optimal Ketosis (best for weight loss): 1.5 mmol/L – 3.0 mmol/L
- Deep Ketosis: 3.0 mmol/L – 5.0 mmol/L
It’s easy to fall prey to watching your ketone readings to gauge ketosis, but remember, any level of ketosis is a wonderful thing for your health. Some people never get into deep ketosis. Some people burn more fat in minimal ketosis than people in optimal ketosis. Listen to your body.
If you fall out of the range, it’s best to do a Fat Fast, and resume a strict Ketogenic diet until you are back in range. The fat fast is a technique brought by Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution – and is used by people who are metabolically resistant and struggle to get into ketosis.
So, what exactly is a fat fast? It’s eating between 1000 and 1200 calories a day, where between 80% and 90% of your calories come from fat, and fat alone. You break these 1000-1200 calories into 4 or 5 meals a day, eating in blocks of 200-250 calories per meal.
Fats That Induce Ketosis Include:
- Whole Eggs
- Fatty Fish
- Coconuts and Coconut Oil
- MCT Oil (like in Nui Cookies)
For some people, it may take a few days or weeks to adapt fully, although you can expect to see and experience the benefits of ketosis within a few days. Once you are back in range, be sure to keep a food diary and check your Ketone levels regularly to learn what might be kicking you out of Ketosis. Over time, you will learn what works for you and your metabolism.
Why Do I Keep Getting Kicked Out of Ketosis?
The most straightforward answer is that you overate carbohydrates, but the truth is, there are many reasons why you might get kicked out of Ketosis.
If you keep wondering “How long does it take to get into Ketosis,” you might not be in ketosis at all; many people comment they experience a sudden rush of energy (and the desire to urinate) when their bodies switch over. As it goes, if you have to ask, you are not in ketosis. Over time, you will become a master at being able to tell what your body is using as its fuel source.
Below are some common reasons why people fall out of Ketosis:
Not Understanding Your Keto Macros: if you do not use the correct ratios for your body type (and update them for every ten pounds of fat gain or loss), you run the risk of overeating the wrong foods. Too much starchy vegetables and proteins are problematic - sounds crazy, but it’s true. Not all health foods are healthy.
Using Keto Strips: many people use keto strips to urine-analyze their Ketone levels, but these are not accurate. Unless you use a Blood Ketone Meter, you cannot be 100% sure if you are in or out of Ketosis. Furthermore, once you become fully adapted, your body will become more efficient and urinate fewer ketones, so fewer readings appear.
Artificial Sweeteners: many people who follow a Ketogenic diet will monitor net carbs, which do not factor in certain artificial sweeteners, and while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, net carbs are generally great; some people are sensitive to certain nasty artificial sweeteners.*
Note: *If you feel that artificial sweeteners are kicking you out of ketosis, stop eating Aspartame, Sucralose, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin, Xylitol, and Sorbitol. These are highly processed and are known to kick people out of ketosis.
If you still crave sweet treats and want a Keto approved snack, switch over to foods that contain natural, organic sweeteners like Monk Fruit, and Erythritol, which won’t spike blood sugar levels or insulin levels (or make you feel hungry later). Nui cookies are a delicious option that only uses all-natural sweeteners that won’t kick you out of Ketosis.
So, to recap, the best way to get into ketosis faster is to reduce your calories (to create a deficit), increase your heart-healthy fats (to satisfy your hunger), and decrease your carbs to less than 20 net grams per day (to force your body to seek out new fuel). If you follow these steps, we’re confident you’ll get into ketosis in a few short days.